Russia Rejects Parallels Between South Ossetia, Karabakh

Moscow refused to draw parallels between Nagorno Karabagh and South Ossetia, dismaying many Armenians around the world. Needlessly, in my opinion. We Armenians need to train ourselves to look at these types of diplomatic statements as politicians/diplomats and not lay people. Sergei Lavrov is essentially stating that Moscow did not recognize Ossetia's and Abkhazia's independence - until - the other side decided to resort to violence. He went on to say that such a thing has not yet occurred in Nagorno Karabagh and, as a result, the two situations can't be compared. This makes perfect diplomatic sense because for over fifteen years, as much as it wanted to, Moscow did not attempt to recognize the independence of South Ossetia's and Abkhazia. Moscow resorted to harsh measures only when Tbilisi left it with no other options. What's more, Georgia coming close to joining NATO also compounded the problem for Moscow. So, Moscow had to act. Lavrov is correct, this situation cannot be compared to the situation in Nagorno Karabagh where Armenians there are clearly benefiting from the status quo and the Azeris are clearly behaving themselves, relatively speaking of course. In reality, Lavrov's stance can be indirectly taken as pro-Armenian because it in effect enforces the favorable status quo in Nagorno Karabakh by warning Baku about attempting to solve the issue regarding at hand militarily. Moreover, it's no secret that Moscow clearly wants to play both sides of the fence. Moscow needs Baku at least as much as it needs Yerevan, if not more. With the Nagorno Karabagh situation unresolved Moscow can have its way with both nations. Nevertheless, let's make no mistake about it, this situation, the current status quo, while not ideal, it is beneficial for Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.

Nonetheless, to his credit, Armenian president Serj Sargsyan more-or-less stated today that unless Moscow recognizes Nagorno Karabakh Yerevan has no interest in recognizing Ossetia and Abkhazia, and that Yerevan has no intentions on ruining its vital economic lifeline through Tbilisi either (see article below). Although I am not happy about Yerevan's decision, I, nonetheless, commend Sargsyan for his great candor, diplomacy and wisdom. Geopolitically speaking, his statements were quite Armeno-centric and did not follow Moscow's lead. By recognizing Ossetia and Abkhazia Yerevan would have essentially cut-off its already strained ties with Tbilisi. Armenia currently imports a vast majority of its goods, as well as Russian energy, via Georgia. Until landlocked Armenia can find another route for its trade with Russia and beyond, Yerevan is sorely dependent on Tbilisi. Moscow, as a true strategic ally, needs to realize the predicament Armenia is in, and they need to better take into consideration Yerevan's vulnerabilities. Moreover, Yerevan recognizing the independence of Nagorno Karabakh at this stage would greatly aggravate the already volatile situation in the Caucasus. Simply put, the country has been slowly getting itself back on its feet, Armenia is 'not' ready for another disastrous war. Besides, what do we think an official recognition will get Nagorno Karabakh anyway? Everything has a time and place. Sadly, geopolitical factors today are not yet ripe for Nagorno Karabakh.



Russia Rejects Parallels Between South Ossetia, Karabakh

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a news conference with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbadnian (not pictured) in Yerevan on October 3, 2008. Russia welcomes Turkey's initiative on formation of a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform as well as all other moves meant for regional stability and security, Russia's Foreign Minister said during a joint news conference with Nalbadnian in Yerevan.

September, 2008

Russia on Thursday firmly rejected parallels between the conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia and Abkhazia that have been drawn since its controversial decision to recognize the independence of the two breakaway regions. The move has left observers in Armenia and elsewhere in the region wondering whether Moscow would be prepared to similarly recognize Karabakh’s de facto secession from Azerbaijan. “There are no parallels between the situation over South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the one side and the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement on the other,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. “In the case of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili’s regime has in recent years consistently sought to undermine all negotiation formats, all settlement mechanisms that had been earlier agreed upon by all parties.”

Moscow claims that it had no choice but to recognize the two regions after Georgia attempted to win back South Ossetia and allegedly wipe out its population last month. Lavrov argued that, by contrast, the parties to the Karabakh dispute have been fully cooperating with a team of American, Russian and French mediators trying to broker a peaceful settlement. “None of the parties is walking away from the mechanism formed under the auspices of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group,” he said. “That process is going on. Furthermore, within the framework of that process a serious body of agreed elements of the eventual settlement has been worked out. Work on the remaining several problems is continuing.” Lavrov spoke at a joint news conference with his Armenian counterpart Eduard Nalbandian held after a meeting in Moscow of the foreign ministers of the six former Soviet republics making up the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Nalbandian, who chaired the meeting, presented a joint statement on the Georgian crisis that was adopted by the ministers.

The statement called for a peaceful resolution of the conflict and endorsed a Russian-Georgian truce agreement brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The CSTO foreign ministers criticized Georgia’s ill-fated military assault on South Ossetia but stopped short of denouncing it as an act of aggression. They also said nothing about the Russian recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia included the word “aggression” in the initial version of the statement. It was not immediately clear if Armenia, which is assuming the CSTO’s rotating presidency, demanded its removal from the text. “We are satisfied with the content of this statement,” said Lavrov. “It places the emphases correctly.”


Armenia Rules Out Abkhazia, South Ossetia Recognition

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian is pictured during an official welcoming ceremony with Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov (not pictured) in Sofia on December 10, 2008. Sarkisian is on a two-day official visit to Bulgaria.

President Serzh Sarkisian has made clear that Armenia will not formally recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states any time soon, while reiterating his support for their residents’ right to self-determination. In a wide-ranging foreign policy speech made public late Wednesday, he also indicated that Armenia will continue to seek simultaneously good relations with Russia, the West and other major regional players after the devastating war in neighboring Georgia. He said the Russian-Georgian conflict underlined the need for his landlocked country to have “alternative transit routes” for external commerce running through Iran and Turkey.

“Today one is wodenring from time to time why Armenia is not recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” Sarkisian said, speaking at an annual meeting of Armenian ambassadors abroad. “The answer is simple: for the same reason that it did not recognize Kosovo’s independence. Having the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenia can not recognize another entity in the same situation as long as it has not recognized the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.” The realization of a nation’s right to self-determination “takes times” and requires the understanding of “all interested parties,” explained Sarkisian. That is why Armenia will keep trying to “convince” Azerbaijan to come to terms with the loss of Karabakh, he said.

Russia unilaterally recognized the two breakaway regions after crushing Georgian in a brief war over South Ossetia and seems to be pressing Armenia and its other allies to follow suit. The issue will be on the agenda of Friday’s meeting in Moscow of presidents of Russia, Armenia and four other ex-Soviet states aligned in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). President Dmitry Medvedev already discussed it with Sarkisian at his summer retreat in the Black Sea city of Sochi on Tuesday.

With more than 70 percent of Armenia’s foreign trade carried out through Georgian territory, antagonizing Georgia would prove disastrous for a country already blockaded by Azerbaijan and Turkey. The Armenian economy has already been affected by major disruptions in rail and ferry traffic caused by the Russian-Georgian war. The war has also called into question continued vital supplies of Russian natural gas to Armenia through a pipeline passing via Georgia. “Naturally, we are interested in a rapid and peaceful resolution of Georgia’s problems and the establishment of lasting peace there,” Sarkisian said. He at the same time again criticized Tbilisi for attempting settle the South Ossetian conflict by force and said the de facto secession of this and other territories does set a precedent for the settlement of the Karabakh conflict.

“Let them repeat that Kosovo is not a precedent, and some may say that Abkhazia and South Ossetia are not precedents either,” he said. “But the fact is that exceptions not considered precedents are beginning to set a pattern for the resolution of such conflicts.” Sarkisian further announced that Armenia is poised to end its heavy dependence on Russia for natural gas with the impending launch of a gas pipeline from Iran. “Thank God, the gas pipeline has already been built, and we can receive gas from the Islamic Republic of Iran as early as tomorrow,” he said. “Work on enhancing the capacity of that pipeline will likely end in late October or early November, and we will be able to import from 2 to 2.5 billion cubic meters of [Iranian] gas each year. That is, as much as we import now [from Russia.]”

Sarkisian went on to speak of his “political expectations” from Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s upcoming visit to Yerevan and the broader thaw in Turkish-Armenian relations. “Without forgetting the past, we should look to the future, form an agenda of mutual interest and start contacts without preconditions,” he said. The Armenian leader specifically stressed the importance of reopening the Turkish-Armenian border, telling his top diplomats to help generate greater international pressure for the relaunch of the Gyumri-Kars rail link. “Arm yourselves with maps, statistical data and arguments: we must make sure everyone realizes that these several kilometers of railway can radically change the whole picture of regional partnership.”

Sarkisian further stated that he intends to “deepen and strengthen” Armenia’s “friendly partnership” with the United States as well as other Western powers and structures. He said he will be personally overseeing his government’s implementation of a plan of actions stemming from Armenia’s inclusion in the European Union’s European Neighborhood Policy program. And he confirmed that a planned NATO-led military exercise in Armenia will go ahead later this month despite the latest upsurge in Russia-West tensions over Georgia. Yerevan will “consistently” take other actions stemming from its Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), he said. Those include Armenian participation in the NATO-led peace-keeping missions in Kosovo and possibly Afghanistan.

Sarkisian and his predecessor Robert Kocharian have repeatedly stated that despite growing security ties with the West, Armenia will not seek membership in NATO in the foreseeable future and that the military alliance with Russia remains the bedrock of its defense doctrine. Sarkisian reaffirmed this “complementary” policy in his speech. “We will by all means develop and expand our strategic allied relations with Russia, which are based on the centuries-old friendship of our peoples,” he said.


In related news:

Joint declaration on South Ossetia signed in Moscow

The leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) have signed a joint declaration on recent developments in the Caucasus at a meeting in Moscow on Friday. The group also expressed its support of Russia's reaction to Georgian aggression against South Ossetia. The issue has also been at the forefront of EU foreign ministers’ talks in France. Countries in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation will make their own minds up on the issue of recognising South Ossetia. This was the conclusion of Russia's President Medvedev, following a summit of the organisation. ”All our partners in the CSTO will be guided by their own opinion on the issue of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This is how it should be according to the norms of international law. They'll be guided by their own national interests. Russia believes this is absolutely right,” Dmitry Medvedev said.

But the Armenian President stressed that the members of the organisation should show a united front in different issues, including foreign policy. ”Along with strengthening the military aspects of CSTO, we must also coordinate our foreign policy, because we are members of one organisation,” said Armenian President, Serzh Sargsyan. The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) which includes Russia and six of its neighbouring countries - Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - backed Russia's actions in South Ossetia and condemned Georgia's aggression in a joint statement issued on Thursday. “The statement highlights the key points and has all the necessary verifications, including condemnation of Georgia's military actions against South Ossetia. It condemns the policy of double standards and admits the situation in the conflict zone is dangerous,” said Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov. Russia is clearly satisfied with the support, but there is still a lot of work to be done and diplomatic talks continue on Friday at the highest level. To watch the full press-conference of the leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization in Moscow, please follow link.

Meanwhile, a two-day informal meeting of EU foreign ministers which starts in Avignon, France, on Friday will focus on the situation in the Caucasus. The summit in Avignon will examine the questions of rendering humanitarian aid to Georgia and assistance in restoring its economy. The EU FMs will also consider the effect of events in South Ossetia on relations between Russia and the EU. The special EU summit on September 1 took a moderate stance concerning Russia. Although denouncing the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the EU leaders refrained from taking any sanctions against Russia. At the same time, there is a group of countries inside the EU, which continue pushing through a tough anti-Russian line. The core of the bloc includes the Baltic states, Poland and the UK. The second day of the informal EU foreign ministers’ summit is expected to be devoted to the European Union’s relations with the U.S. and their future prospects. The French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner will also deliver a report on his trip to the Middle East.


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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

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